I don’t think I’ve felt this much hype around a show since…I don’t know when. I haven’t been a seasonal anime viewer in a few years, and I didn’t plan on watching anything in the fall of last year, but holy cow if this wasn’t the most talked about anime of 2016 that I just had to check it out. Praises about it were being thrown left and right, hate was being generated when people started to realize that it may not portray a straight couple, and news sites have been talking about it non-stop with real life figure skaters commenting on this figure skating anime, as well as how much detail was put into it the show to be as accurate as possible. Heck even pole dancers were commenting on Yuri on Ice. I had no idea how this anime had generated so much hype, and it may just be lightning in a bottle, but Yuri on Ice is definitely an eye opener when it comes to anime.
The story is relatively simple when it comes to these sports anime. In this case it’s about Yuri, a figure skater who is pushing just out of his prime and feeling down on himself for not accomplishing his dream of winning a medal. His idol in the figure skating community, Victor, comes to his aid and helps him through this time, giving him confidence and romance. Like all great sports anime this one tends to focus on character rather than story, and how they handle these characters are very familiar, and yet strangely new.
There is a lot of subtext in this show, and as the episodes go on the subtext slowly stops being subtext, but what I found fascinating were the small character moments Yuri would have with Victor. When you think this show will go and use the stereotypical freak out cliches that anime can be known for it was a relief to me to see Yuri pause, take a breath, and actually think about his situation. He still had negative thoughts, but not in the over dramatic way. He debated inside himself whether what he was doing was right, what he was feeling was right, and so on. These small pauses that Yuri takes is so refreshing, especially when modern anime is all about overacting over every tiny detail and trying to turn it into a punchline. Yuri on Ice treats their characters as people, and as such they make rational decisions that will peak the viewer’s interest.
My favorite part of the show would have to be the beginning few episodes. There wasn’t that much ice skating, and it served to introduce and build the characters up with a foundation in order for the figure skating episodes to have more weight. More than half of this show is about Yuri going through the figure skating competition, and to propel the viewer through the episode while also adhering to character you will spend most of that time in Yuri’s head as he constantly has a debate within himself. That’s why I love the foundation of these characters, because Yuri’s inner struggle wouldn’t have been as significant if it weren’t for its foundation.
As I said before there will be a lot of episodes dedicated to figure skating, and each character will have two different routines that they’ll perform over and over throughout the course of the show. On the surface this can sound boring, however, Yuri on Ice was able to find a way to make these routine routines interesting, and meaningful, from listening to each character’s thoughts while they glide across the ice, or from minor details in their performance. For example, Yuri’s performance is more structured and rigid in the beginning, but as he’s becoming more confident in himself you notice his performance being smoother, and you see him adding little touches and gestures to his performance. This type of gradual character progression through imagery is another reason why I adore this show. You can tell how much passion and work had been put into this anime.
The only thing I didn’t like about this anime was the fact that once the competition started nearly every episode was about the skating routines. As I mentioned above, the show was able to make those performances interesting and meaningful, but I felt like it took away potential character moments you could have had. It’s just a minor gripe, but there isn’t much to dislike about Yuri on Ice. It’s overall a really great and fun show. I left every episode with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. My body felt elated from such a positive thinking show. The characters are very likable, and this anime was able to put weight onto a character’s relationship in a way I don’t think I’ve seen before. The only thing I could have asked for from this series was to have more episodes. I didn’t want it to stop, because it’s one of the most fun and satisfying shows I’ve watched in a long time.